The most important aspect of being humble isn’t that we feel a certain set of emotions. The most important matter is that we humble ourselves—do deeds of humility—as a lifestyle, trusting that genuine humility will come from the “outside in” as the Holy Spirit honors our obedience.
So this is what striving for humility looks like in my life. I defer to other men. I submit to my elders. I try not to praise myself to others. I fail. I repent. I confess. I fast, in part, to live fully aware of my own weakness. I open my heart to rebuke when friends and leaders see something amiss in my life. I also submit to my wife, not only because the apostle Paul urged mutual submission of husbands and wives in his letter to the Ephesians, but also because I recognize her superior gifts. I try to see myself as small in my own eyes. I give up certain rights. All these things I do in pursuit of humility no matter how I feel at the time. Frankly, I do not often “feel humble.” I have, though, been making progress in humility by humbling myself—that is, doing deeds of humility.
This approach gets closer to the heart of a man. He is made to do first. Feelings come later—if at all. And thank God for it. Where would we be if the men who have shaped our world waited to feel before they acted?
Certainly, a man who is whole is able to feel and he should hope to have a rich emotional life. Yet a man who is whole also does not regard feelings as a mandate for action. He acts as a mandate for feeling.
Challenge: Take note of the areas of your life in which you’ve been trying to perfect virtue by managing your emotions rather than by acting, by doing something that needs to be done. How has this hindered you? What actions can you take to begin doing humility that you hadn’t thought of before?